Control Your Runaway Expenses

For most of us, the prices of many things seem to have risen ahead of our income. Inflation has certainly taken its toll. In some cases, it may be more than costs that have risen; it may be our consumption. If you are looking for ways to control both rising expenses and increasing consumption, while managing a tighter, two-person budget, here are some timely suggestions.

The Roof Above and the Utilities Within

  • You may be using more of your income for housing than in the past. If you have a mortgage make sure you are getting the best rates available for it and any equity loans. In addition, make certain that you are deducting every penny allowable under current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. Shop around for mortgage rates as well!
  • Review your home heating fuel consumption for the last 12-24 months (or as long as you have owned/rented the property) and get on a budget plan that reflects true current prices. Lower fuel prices should not mean relaxing where insulation and conservation are concerned—check your insulation and trim another degree off the thermostat!
  • Check your local electric and water departments for free conservation programs and tips. Expect their rates to continue rising, and adjust your lifestyle accordingly. As with heating, remember to adjust the thermostat during air conditioning season.
  • Telephone service has added enhancement upon enhancement over the past few years. Ask yourself if you are really using all the new services, or if you have them because the ads are so convincing. Life without “call waiting” may be rather pleasant.

Shopping Sprees

  • Going to the “super” grocery store can be a great adventure. Make a shopping list of what you want. Get a special store card to scan for specials, clip some coupons, and grab a supermarket circular for specials. The use of lists, specials, and coupons can reduce your weekly food bill by up to 20%.
  • Clothing prices may seem to have gone out of control, but you have the power to bring them back into line by remembering one fact: The “name” on the front, back, side, or anywhere else does not mean that the article of clothing will wear any better or any longer than the “no-name” variety. Try this fact on for size and watch your clothing expenses fit with reality once more.

Health and Fiscal Fitness

  • The added expense of a good fitness program can lead to better health and fewer visits to the doctor or chiropractor. In many cases, the sidewalk outside your home will work just as well as the fitness club down the street.
  • If your doctor agrees, shop “generic” when you need medications, and look for pharmacies that offer reduced rates on prescriptions; the same stores may even offer reduced prices on prescription eyewear needs.

Pizzas and Videos

  • The cost of cable television is something to behold, and the “necessity” of cable is a wonder of the modern age. An assessment of true cable usage may prove that all those “must-have” channels are watched so infrequently that the “cost per view” is one that could be trimmed easily. Is it time to return to fewer channels and more trips to the library?
  • The cost of an afternoon or evening at the movies is another wonder of our times. It may be time to begin enjoying Friday nights at home with the family making pizzas and watching videos. Family game nights are another great option!
  • There are times when busy schedules make eating out a necessity. However, dining out need not come with a high price tag. “Two-for-one” specials and “kids eat free” offers have become more commonplace.
  • A meal out at a restaurant is not always a luxury. There are times when it becomes as necessary to personal survival as sleep. Dining out does not need to have a luxury price tag. “Two-for-one” specials, and “kids eat free” offers are more common than ever before.
  • All the “little” expenses—banking fees, subscriptions, personal care, lottery tickets, and such—can creep up gradually to create a new “Godzilla” ready to devour the best-laid spending plans. Analyze all of them and see which are truly necessities.
  • The final budget-busting monster of the modern age is the credit card, with its associated annual fees and finance charges. Get credit card debt paid off, or at least under control.

Expenses have increased, and your income may not have kept pace with them. You also may have fallen prey to spending patterns that have made increased consumption and deficit financing a way of life. If your expenses have run away, rein them in today for a comfortable, more secure future. The “runaway train” of debt can, indeed, be stopped before it derails!

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